Village basketball games that are a national obsession in China

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TAIPAN, China — It’s game day in this remote village in southwest China, and the atmosphere is electric.

In front of thousands of fans on an outdoor field nestled in the rugged hills of Guizhou province – and with millions more watching online – teams from across China compete to become champions of “CunBA”, a version of base of the National Basketball Association whose name is a play on the Chinese word “cun”, which means “village”.

Basketball is extremely popular in China, where the NBA continues to broadcast games despite past political controversies. China also has its own professional men’s league, the Chinese Basketball Association, although recent allegations of corruption and match-fixing have turned off many fans.

Some see a purer version of this sport in CunBA, which has become a sort of national obsession, with Taipan proclaiming itself capital. The matches are broadcast live on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, where they are seen by millions of fans who may never have heard of this small village located in one of the poorest provinces in the country .

They’ve even attracted NBA stars such as Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler, who visited Taipan last July.